Rome authorities begin Gypsy census

City officials and Italian Red Cross workers began a census of Rome's Gypsy population but said Friday that they will not participate in a national initiative to fingerprint all Gypsies unless they encounter someone suspected of a crime. Premier Silvio Berlusconi's government has drawn a stream of criticism from the European Union and human rights groups since announcing last month it wanted to fingerprint the tens of thousands of Gypsies, children and adults alike, who live in hundreds of encampments built mainly around Rome, Naples and Milan. A government ordinance required a census of the camps but left authorities in each city leeway on how to count the inhabitants. Rome Prefect Carlo Mosca, the government's top security official for the city, has been skeptical of mass fingerprinting.